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Expressive skill in 2 pianists metrical communication in real and stimulated performances


, : Expressive skill in 2 pianists metrical communication in real and stimulated performances. Canadian Journal of Psychology 39(2): 273-293

Two pianists of differing experience gave repeated performances of 2 melodies, each of which was metrically ambiguous. The ambiguity allowed alternative placement of notational symbols for meter. Dimensions of performance were recorded by computer. This allowed the discovery of significant differences in expressive treatment between the metrical alternatives. By comparing the 2 melodies, a set of 6 general principles accounted for 97 out of 118 of these differences. Although both pianists worked mainly within these principles, several quantifiable differences were discovered between the performers which could account both for perceived style difference and also for the effectiveness of metrical communication. The communicative effectiveness of the performances of 1 melody was assessed by playing computer generated simulations of the performances to 18 musician subjects, who discriminated between 2 metrical versions. The simulations allowed the different dimensions of performance variation to be presented independently. Variations in loudness and touch carried the main communicative burden (although with different weighting for the 2 performers). Timing variations (interonset interval) seemed effective in neither performer's case.

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